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Can you give a reason why in Matthew 1.1 David’s name is mentioned first before that of Abraham’s?

I presume the questioner is wondering why Abraham is not mentioned first, for, chronologically speaking, he lived long before David. The clue to David’s name being mentioned first really lies in the character and purpose of the Gospel of Matthew. Matthew is well aware of the fact that Abraham historically should come before David, but the Word of God is not written according to man’s dictates or design. In the genealogical list in Matthew he traces the royal line of the Lord’s ancestry. Notice further down in the genealogy David is mentioned (v.6) as "the king". Matthew presents the Kingship of Christ and the kingdom. It is fitting that in this Gospel the Son of David is mentioned first. The Son of David links Christ with the throne. As Son of Abraham this links Christ with the altar. The whole of the gospel presents these two aspects of Christ. The Lord is the true King of Israel in chapters 1 to 12, but He is also the son of Abraham, anticipating His death on the cross. This is seen in chapters 13 to 28. We think of the offering up of Isaac in connection with Abraham. The offering up of Isaac is a lovely type of the Lord’s death. This would help us to see that apart from the death of Christ at Calvary there can be no kingdom of God established.

Why are these two names selected by Matthew in his Gospel? Why are they brought together here? Because all the hopes of the nation of Israel were dependent upon what God communicated to these two great men. David was the anointed head of the kingdom and a picture of the coming Messiah. Abraham was the patriarch to whom God promised that all the families of the earth would be blessed.

It might have significance to note some of the places where David is mentioned in the New Testament. His is the first Old Testament name in the New Testament. His is the first Old Testament name mentioned in Acts (1.16). His is the first Old Testament name mentioned in Romans (1.3). His is the last Old Testament name mentioned in Paul’s epistles (2 Tim 2.8). His is the last Old Testament name mentioned in the New Testament (Rev 22.16).

John J Stubbs

In what sense did Jacob understand that the place where he had his dream was "the house of God" (Gen 28.17)?

The first and only reference to "the house of God" in the book of Genesis, indeed in the whole of the Pentateuch, is found here in Genesis 28.17, although it should be acknowledged that in v.22 of the chapter, we find the expression "God’s house". By "the law of first mention" the term must have a particular significance.

The section in Genesis 28 may be outlined as follows:

i) vv.10-13a: The Vision (Jacob’s Dream). Note: "behold a ladder...behold the angels of God" (v.12), "behold, the Lord" (v.13a)

ii) vv.13b-15: The Voice: "the Lord...said" (v.13b).

iii) vv.16-22: The Vow: "Jacob vowed a vow" (v.20).

Jacob, awaking out of his sleep, said, "Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not" (v.16). Jacob had actually met the Lord here; did he realise that his grandfather, Abram, had long ago worshipped the Lord in this place (Gen 13.4)? No doubt Jacob knew that God was omnipresent, that He was here, as well as everywhere, but He was also here in a special way; it was a particular presence. "And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place!" (Gen 28.17); this was an experience to inspire reverence. The place was dreadful, not in the sense of striking terror, but awesome because of Jacob’s realisation of standing upon holy ground.

Then we have Jacob’s confession: "this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven". Certain basic principles are given here in association with "the house of God": a) the presence of the Lord, b) the holiness of the Lord, and c) the bounty and blessing of the Lord (vv.13-15). Paul alludes to Genesis 28 when writing to Timothy, "that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself (i.e. how one ought to conduct oneself) in the house of God, which is the church of the living God" (1 Tim 3.15), where "house of God" refers to the local assembly. The principles stated above hold good for the church in its local aspect.

"And he (Jacob) called the name of that place Bethel (house of God): but the name of that city was called Luz (separation) at the first" (Gen 28.19). "Place" and "city" here are not interchangeable terms; clearly Jacob did not spend the night in the city. In the course of time, the place gained such significance that gradually the name "Bethel" was extended to include the adjacent city.

David E West


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